Education-based marketing is the sharing of knowledge with the purpose of building trust. It is a strategy that establishes credibility and trust with your customers by using educational messages. Today’s consumer lives in a highly digital and immediately gratifying consumer environment. They don’t have to buy unless it is on their terms and their timetable.
Furthermore, today’s consumer won’t do business with people they don’t trust . In order for them to trust you they need to be assured they are dealing with the right company who has their best interests in mind.
Education-based marketing is the direct opposite of traditional marketing, which is done through selling-based messages. Many consumers have had enough of traditional marketing approaches and have grown tired of hearing old and worn out sales pitches. However, when you share important information and facts that help customers make a good buying decision they listen .
1. Knowledge is the Key
Let's look at a case study of an industry that is faced with some of the greatest hurdles when it comes to trust in the eyes of the consumer, where traditional marketing approaches no longer attracts consumers to become customers: The Financial Services industry. This industry suffers from a lack of an education-based approach and the gap between consumer understanding and the professional is an ocean. Where there is such a gap, the void must be filled through education, through information, through knowledge – not just direct marketing.
The challenge is how to bring the consumer to a level of confidence without having to go through years of trial and error. This is where an educational approach comes into the picture in a very dramatic fashion.
In this case study I examined the approaches of several professionals to identify common points of success and failure. One such financial professional who takes this unique approach is Lisa Barram, President of Retirement Prosperity Group. She quotes William Penn: "Knowledge is the treasure of a wise man", as she attributes their success to empowering their clients with knowledge through their education-based philosophy.
As the President of Retirement Prosperity Group, she hosts weekly classroom-type seminars to hundreds of consumers in the Philadelphia area. “Consumers face a lot of challenges retiring in today’s volatile economy. Our company aims to educate potential clients by inviting them to an informational type event where attendees are given a workbook and educated on the main challenges facing retirees and pre-retirees today. We also cover the solutions that solve the problems they face. Every attendee is offered a complimentary Retirement Prosperity Road Map where the education continues in an office setting.”
Maintaining an educational presence and relationship with your customers is an important element in any business that hopes to remain relevant today, whether you are a retail business, a financial services firm, an entrepreneur or even in the service or medical field. You should always be on the lookout for how you can continue to educate your existing clients as well as potential customers and ways to help them with their problems and ways to achieve their goals. Give them more than what they were hoping for, always over deliver and this will build a stronger relation between you and your ideal customer.
“Internet marketing is one industry that’s lost much trust in the eyes of consumers, thanks to pushy marketing that shows little care for the consumers’ best interests,” says H.E.M Don Santo, Leader of The Klassik Nation, a comparison portal for web hosting companies. “We wanted to be different, so we created test sites on dozens of hosts, monitor them with Pingdom and then educate our readers with honest, transparent and data-driven reviews. You can’t go wrong when you set out to genuinely educate your readers.”
2. Think like your potential customer
You need to get into the minds of your customers and find out what the answers are to the questions they have. In order to attract qualified prospects, you need to find out those questions and their answers. When you have searched for the answers, you use them as the basis for your educational marketing message. You need to give educational information that will attract and help your prospects in solving their problems and to enable them make better decisions.
3. Identify touch points
Now you need to develop a strategy to give out your packaged educational message repeatedly. You need to identify your customer touch points. These customer touch points are publicity, advertising, websites, direct mail (yes it still works), word of mouth, review websites, networking conversations and phone calls. Once you have identified these common customer touch points you need to offer your messages through each of the touch points on a consistent basis. Being in front of your target audience should be a weekly or at least monthly activity, when something changes in their current situation you need to be in front of them so they think of you when they are ready for help.
4. Develop a message that gets a response
Educational messages aren’t only meant to give out information you must also have a message that gets a response from your prospects. In order for your knowledge to hit your ultimate prospect at home, you need to give it an engaging title and offer - this needs to be something that speaks to their challenges, problems, goals, etc. If you do not know how your potential client thinks or what they want you need to find out. Without that nothing can move forward. Surveys can help with this. Why do your current clients work with you? Why did they come to you in the first place? What problem do you solve for them?
Once you have an approach or a message you can get your message out through many mediums video, blog post, written report, a CD or DVD and even better yet deliver it face to face through a seminar or educational event.
5. Add value at every opportunity
Education Based Marketing means to give customers what they want - advice and knowledge without requiring anything in return. You are establishing yourself as an authority and your prospective customers will see you as a reliable source of knowledge.
By offering free information, advice and even informative tangibles such as white papers, pamphlets, (no strings attached) to a potential customer, you will establish yourself as a trusted authority in your space, and customers will think of you when they need help or when something changes in their current situation.
Build a business on integrity, use education based marketing, stay relevant and top of mind with your target audience, add value for all of your prospects and continue to find ways to help your ideal client solve their problems or achieve their goals.
I'm a Royal Press contributor, writer, content marketer, influencer, advertising/branding guy, screenwriter, idea generator, massive coffee imbiber. I write about marketing/advertising/branding in any way, shape or form.
CM Wanzala is among the most influential writers in the space. He writes about HRM / entertainment / leadership / marketing / advertising / branding in one way, shape or form.